What I’ve Learned From Shooting Film

film photography in Traverse City, Michigan

As a photographer, I feel like I’m constantly driven to grow and explore. Last year, after talking to a handful of film photographers (and after spending months, or maybe years talking about why I would never shoot film), I finally picked up a film camera on eBay to play with. I was hooked from the moment my first roll of Fuji 400H came back.

Shooting film has made such a difference in how I approach shooting in general. Even though film makes up a tiny fraction of the total photos I take, I’ve found that I’m slowing down across the board to make sure that I’m getting my shots right in my camera. I’m more observant of light, framing and other details, and I’m putting more value into every shutter click (something that’s easy to learn quickly when you’re literally spending at least a dollar every time you click the shutter).

If time allows and the lighting is right, you might see me pull out my film camera at my next wedding or session. I’ve found that it works best with lots of light, and I’m especially keen on golden hour film photos.


Check back next Tuesday for a brand new blog post.

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A Getaway to Puerto Rico


After an incredibly busy year, I told my friend and travel buddy, Jess, in November that we should plan a mini getaway soon. She’s a travel agent and an action taker, so I knew if I put it out there to her, something would happen. Within weeks, we were on a plane to Puerto Rico, where we met up with my friend, Kate, to stay in the Marriott Stelaris.

I tried something totally different for this trip. I usually pack up my full DSLR for travel, but since I’ve been playing with film, I challenged myself to only take my Nikon F100 with Fuji 400h film. It’s manual everything, even focus.

I didn’t take a ton of photos—I really wanted to spend my time there connecting with my dear friends and recharging. In a strange twist of fate, I decided to only take photos on my phone when we hiked out to go swimming in a waterfall, and my phone ended up with a strange error that made all of the photos show up gray. So I guess old school film really won out on this trip.

And yes, I did in fact pick this hotel out of the options Jess presented because it had a water slide. I went down it more times than I can count, because I’m basically a twelve year old 🙂

I should also mention that if you make your way to San Juan, Puerto Rico, Old San Juan is an amazing area to check out. It’s the second oldest European-established capital city in the Americas (founded in 1521).


I discovered acai bowls at a little cafe down the road from our hotel, and I’m pretty sure that I was there at least three or four times in the less than four days that we were in Puerto Rico. I was instantly obsessed with these things—it was topped with fresh fruit and bee pollen (Jeff still makes some fun of me for the bee pollen, but I’m telling you—that thing was amazing). When I got home, I immediately looked into how I could make these for myself, and I’ve been starting my day with one more and more often.


Fall Family Photos at Fenner Nature Center

fall family photos at Fenner Nature Center in Lansing, MI

You may remember this family from their winter session at Winter Brick Park in 2015. I’ve known Christy since I was in kindergarden. I was an extremely shy kid in kindergarden, and she was the one who got me to break out of my shell. I swear that I remember talking to her for the first times on the swings at the playground.

We had a new little addition to the family this time for our fall session at Fenner Nature Center 🙂

fall family photos at Fenner Nature Center in Lansing, MI

baby boy family photos in Lansing, MI fall family photos at Fenner Nature Center in Lansing, MI

fall family photos at Fenner Nature Center in Lansing, MI

Here’s the frame set that ended up in their home—it’s a 16×20″ print in a 20×24″ frame with two 8×10″ prints in 11×14″ frames. I love that this setup leaves room to grow for future photos.

framed photos

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Mother Daughter Portraits


When Chelsea reached out to me about family photos late last summer, I had no idea how much her little family would touch my heart.

When I first met her sweet two-year-old daughter, she reminded me a bit of my younger brother, Pat. It was in the way she held her hands. A bit of history here—Pat was diagnosed with Metachromatic Leukodystrophy when he was six (a genetic disease so rare that it still gets underlined in my text editor as a misspelling to this day). It’s often been mistaken for cerebral palsy by those who have met him.

I’ll tell you this—I’ve always been sensitive and protective about the way others approach Pat. From the time I was eight, I was keenly aware that my family was a bit different. I couldn’t ignore the stares in public, and I’ve always appreciated those who have dared to ask about Pat’s story.

So I’ll be honest. When I met Chelsea and her daughter, I was a bit nervous to ask about her muscles, about the way she held her hands. But I knew that I had always wanted to be asked, and so I asked her. CP was the answer.

Chelsea—thank you for sharing a little bit of your family story with me, and thank you for trusting me to document your family.


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